Publications by authors named "Fowzan S Alkuraya"

436 Publications

Lethal variants in humans: lessons learned from a large molecular autopsy cohort.

Genome Med 2021 Oct 13;13(1):161. Epub 2021 Oct 13.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Background: Molecular autopsy refers to DNA-based identification of the cause of death. Despite recent attempts to broaden its scope, the term remains typically reserved to sudden unexplained death in young adults. In this study, we aim to showcase the utility of molecular autopsy in defining lethal variants in humans.

Methods: We describe our experience with a cohort of 481 cases in whom the cause of premature death was investigated using DNA from the index or relatives (molecular autopsy by proxy). Molecular autopsy tool was typically exome sequencing although some were investigated using targeted approaches in the earlier stages of the study; these include positional mapping, targeted gene sequencing, chromosomal microarray, and gene panels.

Results: The study includes 449 cases from consanguineous families and 141 lacked family history (simplex). The age range was embryos to 18 years. A likely causal variant (pathogenic/likely pathogenic) was identified in 63.8% (307/481), a much higher yield compared to the general diagnostic yield (43%) from the same population. The predominance of recessive lethal alleles allowed us to implement molecular autopsy by proxy in 55 couples, and the yield was similarly high (63.6%). We also note the occurrence of biallelic lethal forms of typically non-lethal dominant disorders, sometimes representing a novel bona fide biallelic recessive disease trait. Forty-six disease genes with no OMIM phenotype were identified in the course of this study. The presented data support the candidacy of two other previously reported novel disease genes (FAAH2 and MSN). The focus on lethal phenotypes revealed many examples of interesting phenotypic expansion as well as remarkable variability in clinical presentation. Furthermore, important insights into population genetics and variant interpretation are highlighted based on the results.

Conclusions: Molecular autopsy, broadly defined, proved to be a helpful clinical approach that provides unique insights into lethal variants and the clinical annotation of the human genome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-021-00973-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8511862PMC
October 2021

Biallelic variants in SLC38A3 encoding a glutamine transporter cause epileptic encephalopathy.

Brain 2021 Oct 4. Epub 2021 Oct 4.

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, 77030, USA.

The solute carrier (SLC) superfamily encompasses >400 transmembrane transporters involved in the exchange of amino acids, nutrients, ions, metals, neurotransmitters and metabolites across biological membranes. SLCs are highly expressed in the mammalian brain; defects in nearly 100 unique SLC-encoding genes (OMIM: https://www.omim.org) are associated with rare Mendelian disorders including developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) and severe neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Exome sequencing and family-based rare variant analyses on a cohort with NDD identified two siblings with DEE and a shared deleterious homozygous splicing variant in SLC38A3. The gene encodes SNAT3, a sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter and a principal transporter of the amino acids asparagine, histidine, and glutamine, the latter being the precursor for the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. Additional subjects with a similar DEE phenotype and biallelic predicted-damaging SLC38A3 variants were ascertained through GeneMatcher and collaborations with research and clinical molecular diagnostic laboratories. Untargeted metabolomic analysis was performed to identify novel metabolic biomarkers. Ten individuals from seven unrelated families from six different countries with deleterious biallelic variants in SLC38A3 were identified. Global developmental delay, intellectual disability, hypotonia, and absent speech were common features while microcephaly, epilepsy, and visual impairment were present in the majority. Epilepsy was drug-resistant in half. Metabolomic analysis revealed perturbations of glutamate, histidine, and nitrogen metabolism in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid of selected subjects, potentially representing biomarkers of disease. Our data support the contention that SLC38A3 is a novel disease gene for DEE and illuminate the likely pathophysiology of the disease as perturbations in glutamine homeostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab369DOI Listing
October 2021

The recurrent missense mutation p.(Arg367Trp) in YARS1 causes a distinct neurodevelopmental phenotype.

J Mol Med (Berl) 2021 Sep 18. Epub 2021 Sep 18.

Institute of Human Genetics, Medical Faculty and University Hospital Düsseldorf, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Pathogenic variants in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARS1) cause a diverse spectrum of autosomal recessive disorders. Tyrosyl tRNA synthetase (TyrRS) is encoded by YARS1 (cytosolic, OMIM*603,623) and is responsible of coupling tyrosine to its specific tRNA. Next to the enzymatic domain, TyrRS has two additional functional domains (N-Terminal TyrRS and C-terminal EMAP-II-like domain) which confer cytokine-like functions. Mutations in YARS1 have been associated with autosomal-dominant Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) neuropathy type C and a heterogenous group of autosomal recessive, multisystem diseases. We identified 12 individuals from 6 families with the recurrent homozygous missense variant c.1099C > T;p.(Arg367Trp) (NM_003680.3) in YARS1. This variant causes a multisystem disorder with developmental delay, microcephaly, failure to thrive, short stature, muscular hypotonia, ataxia, brain anomalies, microcytic anemia, hepatomegaly, and hypothyroidism. In silico analyses show that the p.(Arg367Trp) does not affect the catalytic domain responsible of enzymatic coupling, but destabilizes the cytokine-like C-terminal domain. The phenotype associated with p.(Arg367Trp) is distinct from the other biallelic pathogenic variants that reside in different functional domains of TyrRS which all show some common, but also divergent clinical signs [(e.g., p.(Phe269Ser)-retinal anomalies, p.(Pro213Leu)/p.(Gly525Arg)-mild ID, p.(Pro167Thr)-high fatality)]. The diverse clinical spectrum of ARS1-associated disorders is related to mutations affecting the various non-canonical domains of ARS1, and impaired protein translation is likely not the exclusive disease-causing mechanism of YARS1- and ARS1-associated neurodevelopmental disorders. KEY MESSAGES: The missense variant p.(Arg367Trp) in YARS1 causes a distinct multisystem disorder. p.(Arg367Trp) affects a non-canonical domain with cytokine-like functions. Phenotypic heterogeneity associates with the different affected YARS1 domains. Impaired protein translation is likely not the exclusive mechanism of ARS1-associated disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00109-021-02124-9DOI Listing
September 2021

Expanding the phenotype of ASXL3-related syndrome: A comprehensive description of 45 unpublished individuals with inherited and de novo pathogenic variants in ASXL3.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 Nov 26;185(11):3446-3458. Epub 2021 Aug 26.

Neurology Clinic, Department of Medicine, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.

The study aimed at widening the clinical and genetic spectrum of ASXL3-related syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder, caused by truncating variants in the ASXL3 gene. In this international collaborative study, we have undertaken a detailed clinical and molecular analysis of 45 previously unpublished individuals with ASXL3-related syndrome, as well as a review of all previously published individuals. We have reviewed the rather limited functional characterization of pathogenic variants in ASXL3 and discuss current understanding of the consequences of the different ASXL3 variants. In this comprehensive analysis of ASXL3-related syndrome, we define its natural history and clinical evolution occurring with age. We report familial ASXL3 pathogenic variants, characterize the phenotype in mildly affected individuals and discuss nonpenetrance. We also discuss the role of missense variants in ASXL3. We delineate a variable but consistent phenotype. The most characteristic features are neurodevelopmental delay with consistently limited speech, significant neuro-behavioral issues, hypotonia, and feeding difficulties. Distinctive features include downslanting palpebral fissures, hypertelorism, tubular nose with a prominent nasal bridge, and low-hanging columella. The presented data will inform clinical management of individuals with ASXL3-related syndrome and improve interpretation of new ASXL3 sequence variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62465DOI Listing
November 2021

Molecular autopsy by proxy in preconception counseling.

Clin Genet 2021 Aug 18. Epub 2021 Aug 18.

King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Ministry of National Guard-Health Affairs, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Monogenic diseases that result in early pregnancy loss or neonatal death are genetically and phenotypically highly variable. This often poses significant challenges in arriving at a molecular diagnosis for reproductive planning. Molecular autopsy by proxy (MABP) refers to the genetic testing of relatives of deceased individuals to deduce the cause of death. Here, we specifically tested couples who lost one or more children/pregnancies with no available DNA. We developed our testing strategy using whole exome sequencing data from 83 consanguineous Saudi couples. We detected the shared carrier state of 50 pathogenic variants/likely pathogenic variants in 43 families and of 28 variants of uncertain significance in 24 families. Negative results were seen in 16 couples after variant reclassification. In 10 families, the risk of more than one genetic disease was documented. Secondary findings were seen in 10 families: either genetic variants with potential clinical consequences for the tested individual or a female carrier for X-linked conditions. This couple-based approach has enabled molecularly informed genetic counseling for 52% (43/83 families). Given the predominance of autosomal recessive causes of pregnancy and child death in consanguineous populations, MABP can be a helpful approach to consanguineous couples who seek counseling but lack molecular data on their deceased offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.14049DOI Listing
August 2021

PLXNA2 as a candidate gene in patients with intellectual disability.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 Jul 29. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Intellectual disability (ID) is one of the most common disabilities in humans. In an effort to contribute to the expanding genetic landscape of ID, we describe a novel autosomal recessive ID candidate gene. Combined autozygome/exome analysis was performed in two unrelated consanguineous families with ID. Each of the two families had a novel homozygous likely deleterious variant in PLXNA2 and displayed the core phenotype of ID. PLXNA2 belongs to a family of transmembrane proteins that function as semaphorin receptors. Sema5A-PlexinA2 is known to regulate brain development in mouse, and Plxna2-/- mice display defective associative learning, sociability, and sensorimotor gating. We note the existence of variability in the phenotype among the three patients, including the existence of variable degree of ID, ranging from borderline intellectual functioning to moderate-severe ID, and the presence of cardiac anomalies in only one of the patients. We propose incomplete penetrance as a possible explanation of the observed difference in phenotypes. Future cases will be needed to support the proposed link between PLXNA2 and ID in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62440DOI Listing
July 2021

Residual risk for additional recessive diseases in consanguineous couples.

Genet Med 2021 Jul 27. Epub 2021 Jul 27.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Consanguineous couples are typically counseled based on familial pathogenic variants identified in affected children. The residual risk for additional autosomal recessive (AR) variants, however, remains largely understudied.

Methods: First, we surveyed pedigrees of 1,859 consanguineous families for evidence of more than one AR disease. Second, we mined our database of 1,773 molecularly tested consanguineous families to identify those with more than one AR disease. Finally, we surveyed 88 women from consanguineous unions who have undergone targeted prenatal testing for a familial AR variant and followed the pregnancy outcome (n = 144).

Results: We found suggestive evidence of more than one AR disease in 1.94% of consanguineous pedigrees surveyed. Of 1,773 molecularly characterized consanguineous families, 2.93% had evidence of at least two AR diseases (3.54% for first cousin or closer and 2.72% for second cousin or more distant). Furthermore, we found that in 2.78% of pregnancies negative for the familial variant, the pregnancy outcome was a child with a different AR disease.

Conclusion: Our results show that when counseling consanguineous couples for a familial AR variant, ~3% residual risk for additional AR variants should be discussed. This suggests that a broader testing strategy in consanguineous couples should be considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01289-5DOI Listing
July 2021

ZNF668 deficiency causes a recognizable disorder of DNA damage repair.

Hum Genet 2021 Sep 27;140(9):1395-1401. Epub 2021 Jul 27.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, 11211, Saudi Arabia.

The purpose of this study is to describe a Mendelian disorder of DNA damage repair. Phenotypic delineation of two families, one new and one previously published, with overlapping dysmorphic and neurodevelopmental features was undertaken. Functional characterization of DNA damage repair in fibroblasts obtained from the index individuals in each of the two families was pursued. We present new evidence of a distinct disorder caused by biallelic truncating variants in ZNF668 comprising microcephaly, growth deficiency, severe global developmental delay, brain malformation, and distinct facial dysmorphism. DNA damage repair defect was observed in fibroblasts of affected individuals. ZNF668 deficiency in humans results in a recognizable autosomal recessive disorder, which we propose to name ZNF668-related ZMAND (ZNF668-related brain malformation, microcephaly, abnormal growth, neurodevelopmental delay, and dysmorphism). Our results add to the growing list of Mendelian disorders of the DNA damage repair machinery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-021-02321-zDOI Listing
September 2021

Missense NAA20 variants impairing the NatB protein N-terminal acetyltransferase cause autosomal recessive developmental delay, intellectual disability, and microcephaly.

Genet Med 2021 Jul 6. Epub 2021 Jul 6.

Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Purpose: N-terminal acetyltransferases modify proteins by adding an acetyl moiety to the first amino acid and are vital for protein and cell function. The NatB complex acetylates 20% of the human proteome and is composed of the catalytic subunit NAA20 and the auxiliary subunit NAA25. In five individuals with overlapping phenotypes, we identified recessive homozygous missense variants in NAA20.

Methods: Two different NAA20 variants were identified in affected individuals in two consanguineous families by exome and genome sequencing. Biochemical studies were employed to assess the impact of the NAA20 variants on NatB complex formation and catalytic activity.

Results: Two homozygous variants, NAA20 p.Met54Val and p.Ala80Val (GenBank: NM_016100.4, c.160A>G and c.239C>T), segregated with affected individuals in two unrelated families presenting with developmental delay, intellectual disability, and microcephaly. Both NAA20-M54V and NAA20-A80V were impaired in their capacity to form a NatB complex with NAA25, and in vitro acetylation assays revealed reduced catalytic activities toward different NatB substrates. Thus, both NAA20 variants are impaired in their ability to perform cellular NatB-mediated N-terminal acetylation.

Conclusion: We present here a report of pathogenic NAA20 variants causing human disease and data supporting an essential role for NatB-mediated N-terminal acetylation in human development and physiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01264-0DOI Listing
July 2021

CHEDDA syndrome is an underrecognized neurodevelopmental disorder with a highly restricted ATN1 mutation spectrum.

Clin Genet 2021 10 13;100(4):468-477. Epub 2021 Jul 13.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

We describe the clinical features of nine unrelated individuals with rare de novo missense or in-frame deletions/duplications within the "HX motif" of exon 7 of ATN1. We previously proposed that individuals with such variants should be considered as being affected by the syndromic condition of congenital hypotonia, epilepsy, developmental delay, and digital anomalies (CHEDDA), distinct from dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) secondary to expansion variants in exon 5 of ATN1. We confirm that the universal phenotypic features of CHEDDA are distinctive facial features and global developmental delay. Infantile hypotonia and minor hand and feet differences are common and can present as arthrogryposis. Common comorbidities include severe feeding difficulties, often requiring gastrostomy support, as well as visual and hearing impairments. Epilepsy and congenital malformations of the brain, heart, and genitourinary systems are frequent but not universal. Our study confirms the clinical entity of CHEDDA secondary to a mutational signature restricted to exon 7 of ATN1. We propose a clinical schedule for assessment upon diagnosis, surveillance, and early intervention including the potential of neuroimaging for prognostication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.14022DOI Listing
October 2021

Biallelic variants in KARS1 are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders and hearing loss recapitulated by the knockout zebrafish.

Genet Med 2021 10 25;23(10):1933-1943. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Department of Pediatric Diseases, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

Purpose: Pathogenic variants in Lysyl-tRNA synthetase 1 (KARS1) have increasingly been recognized as a cause of early-onset complex neurological phenotypes. To advance the timely diagnosis of KARS1-related disorders, we sought to delineate its phenotype and generate a disease model to understand its function in vivo.

Methods: Through international collaboration, we identified 22 affected individuals from 16 unrelated families harboring biallelic likely pathogenic or pathogenic in KARS1 variants. Sequencing approaches ranged from disease-specific panels to genome sequencing. We generated loss-of-function alleles in zebrafish.

Results: We identify ten new and four known biallelic missense variants in KARS1 presenting with a moderate-to-severe developmental delay, progressive neurological and neurosensory abnormalities, and variable white matter involvement. We describe novel KARS1-associated signs such as autism, hyperactive behavior, pontine hypoplasia, and cerebellar atrophy with prevalent vermian involvement. Loss of kars1 leads to upregulation of p53, tissue-specific apoptosis, and downregulation of neurodevelopmental related genes, recapitulating key tissue-specific disease phenotypes of patients. Inhibition of p53 rescued several defects of kars1 knockouts.

Conclusion: Our work delineates the clinical spectrum associated with KARS1 defects and provides a novel animal model for KARS1-related human diseases revealing p53 signaling components as potential therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01239-1DOI Listing
October 2021

Developmental Consequences of Defective ATG7-Mediated Autophagy in Humans.

N Engl J Med 2021 06;384(25):2406-2417

From the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, (J.J.C., M.O., N.M.-L., A.M.S., A.P., R.M., R.W.T.), the Translational and Clinical Research Institute (J.J.C, M.O., T.M.P., A.M.S., A.P., R.M., R.W.T.), and the NHS Highly Specialised Service for Rare Mitochondrial Disorders of Adults and Children (A.M.S., R.M., R.W.T.), Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, and the Institute of Child Health, Department of Molecular Neuroscience, University College London Institute of Neurology (D.Z., M.R.), the Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Guy's Hospital, King's College London School of Medicine (I.A.B.), and the Clinical Genetics Unit, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust (C.D.), London - all in the United Kingdom; Institut Universitaire de Recherche Clinique and Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire, University of Montpellier and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Montpellier (C.G., S.S., L.L., M.K.), Departments of Neuroradiology (N.L.) and Pediatric Neurology (P.M., F.R.) and Reference Center for Neuromuscular Diseases Atlantic-Occitania-Caribbean (AOC) (P.M., F.R.), CHU de Montpellier, and Laboratoire de Physiologie et Médecine Expérimentale du Cœur et des Muscles (PhyMedExp), INSERM, CNRS, University of Montpellier (P.M., F.R.), Montpellier, and the Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell (I2BC), Université Paris-Saclay, Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), CNRS Gif-sur-Yvette (F.P.-P., A.D.) - all in France; the Translational Stem Cell Biology and Metabolism Program, Research Programs Unit, and the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki (F.S., T.G.M.); Radiation Oncology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York (N.M.-L.); the Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (A.B., S.A.-B., A.R.); Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and Center of Neurology, and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany (S.R., L.S., M.S.); the Departments of Genetics (H.S.A., F.S.A.) and Neuroscience (S.A.), King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, Department of Human Genetics, and John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami (S.Z.).

Background: Autophagy is the major intracellular degradation route in mammalian cells. Systemic ablation of core autophagy-related () genes in mice leads to embryonic or perinatal lethality, and conditional models show neurodegeneration. Impaired autophagy has been associated with a range of complex human diseases, yet congenital autophagy disorders are rare.

Methods: We performed a genetic, clinical, and neuroimaging analysis involving five families. Mechanistic investigations were conducted with the use of patient-derived fibroblasts, skeletal muscle-biopsy specimens, mouse embryonic fibroblasts, and yeast.

Results: We found deleterious, recessive variants in human , a core autophagy-related gene encoding a protein that is indispensable to classical degradative autophagy. Twelve patients from five families with distinct variants had complex neurodevelopmental disorders with brain, muscle, and endocrine involvement. Patients had abnormalities of the cerebellum and corpus callosum and various degrees of facial dysmorphism. These patients have survived with impaired autophagic flux arising from a diminishment or absence of ATG7 protein. Although autophagic sequestration was markedly reduced, evidence of basal autophagy was readily identified in fibroblasts and skeletal muscle with loss of ATG7. Complementation of different model systems by deleterious variants resulted in poor or absent autophagic function as compared with the reintroduction of wild-type .

Conclusions: We identified several patients with a neurodevelopmental disorder who have survived with a severe loss or complete absence of ATG7, an essential effector enzyme for autophagy without a known functional paralogue. (Funded by the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research and others.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1915722DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611730PMC
June 2021

Hoarse voice in children as the presenting feature of ECM1-related lipoid proteinosis.

Am J Med Genet A 2021 Jun 23. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Department of Translational Genomics, Center for Genomic Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.62406DOI Listing
June 2021

Haploinsufficiency of ARFGEF1 is associated with developmental delay, intellectual disability, and epilepsy with variable expressivity.

Genet Med 2021 10 10;23(10):1901-1911. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Inserm UMR1231 team GAD, University of Burgundy and Franche-Comté, Dijon, France.

Purpose: ADP ribosylation factor guanine nucleotide exchange factors (ARFGEFs) are a family of proteins implicated in cellular trafficking between the Golgi apparatus and the plasma membrane through vesicle formation. Among them is ARFGEF1/BIG1, a protein involved in axon elongation, neurite development, and polarization processes. ARFGEF1 has been previously suggested as a candidate gene for different types of epilepsies, although its implication in human disease has not been well characterized.

Methods: International data sharing, in silico predictions, and in vitro assays with minigene study, western blot analyses, and RNA sequencing.

Results: We identified 13 individuals with heterozygous likely pathogenic variants in ARFGEF1. These individuals displayed congruent clinical features of developmental delay, behavioral problems, abnormal findings on brain magnetic resonance image (MRI), and epilepsy for almost half of them. While nearly half of the cohort carried de novo variants, at least 40% of variants were inherited from mildly affected parents who were clinically re-evaluated by reverse phenotyping. Our in silico predictions and in vitro assays support the contention that ARFGEF1-related conditions are caused by haploinsufficiency, and are transmitted in an autosomal dominant fashion with variable expressivity.

Conclusion: We provide evidence that loss-of-function variants in ARFGEF1 are implicated in sporadic and familial cases of developmental delay with or without epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01218-6DOI Listing
October 2021

Mutations in TP73 cause impaired mucociliary clearance and lissencephaly.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 07 1;108(7):1318-1329. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Department of General Pediatrics, University Hospital Muenster, 48149 Muenster, Germany. Electronic address:

TP73 belongs to the TP53 family of transcription factors and has therefore been well studied in cancer research. Studies in mice, however, have revealed non-oncogenic activities related to multiciliogenesis. Utilizing whole-exome sequencing analysis in a cohort of individuals with a mucociliary clearance disorder and cortical malformation, we identified homozygous loss-of-function variants in TP73 in seven individuals from five unrelated families. All affected individuals exhibit a chronic airway disease as well as a brain malformation consistent with lissencephaly. We performed high-speed video microscopy, immunofluorescence analyses, and transmission electron microscopy in respiratory epithelial cells after spheroid or air liquid interface culture to analyze ciliary function, ciliary length, and number of multiciliated cells (MCCs). The respiratory epithelial cells studied display reduced ciliary length and basal bodies mislocalized within the cytoplasm. The number of MCCs is severely reduced, consistent with a reduced number of cells expressing the transcription factors crucial for multiciliogenesis (FOXJ1, RFX2). Our data demonstrate that autosomal-recessive deleterious variants in the TP53 family member TP73 cause a mucociliary clearance disorder due to a defect in MCC differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.05.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8322810PMC
July 2021

Biallelic and monoallelic variants in PLXNA1 are implicated in a novel neurodevelopmental disorder with variable cerebral and eye anomalies.

Genet Med 2021 09 30;23(9):1715-1725. Epub 2021 May 30.

Department of Medical Genetics, Centre for Applied Neurogenetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Purpose: To investigate the effect of PLXNA1 variants on the phenotype of patients with autosomal dominant and recessive inheritance patterns and to functionally characterize the zebrafish homologs plxna1a and plxna1b during development.

Methods: We assembled ten patients from seven families with biallelic or de novo PLXNA1 variants. We describe genotype-phenotype correlations, investigated the variants by structural modeling, and used Morpholino knockdown experiments in zebrafish to characterize the embryonic role of plxna1a and plxna1b.

Results: Shared phenotypic features among patients include global developmental delay (9/10), brain anomalies (6/10), and eye anomalies (7/10). Notably, seizures were predominantly reported in patients with monoallelic variants. Structural modeling of missense variants in PLXNA1 suggests distortion in the native protein. Our zebrafish studies enforce an embryonic role of plxna1a and plxna1b in the development of the central nervous system and the eye.

Conclusion: We propose that different biallelic and monoallelic variants in PLXNA1 result in a novel neurodevelopmental syndrome mainly comprising developmental delay, brain, and eye anomalies. We hypothesize that biallelic variants in the extracellular Plexin-A1 domains lead to impaired dimerization or lack of receptor molecules, whereas monoallelic variants in the intracellular Plexin-A1 domains might impair downstream signaling through a dominant-negative effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01196-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8460429PMC
September 2021

Bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in BCAS3 cause a syndromic neurodevelopmental disorder.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 06 21;108(6):1069-1082. Epub 2021 May 21.

Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Health Innovation Manchester, Manchester M13 9WL, UK.

BCAS3 microtubule-associated cell migration factor (BCAS3) is a large, highly conserved cytoskeletal protein previously proposed to be critical in angiogenesis and implicated in human embryogenesis and tumorigenesis. Here, we established BCAS3 loss-of-function variants as causative for a neurodevelopmental disorder. We report 15 individuals from eight unrelated families with germline bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in BCAS3. All probands share a global developmental delay accompanied by pyramidal tract involvement, microcephaly, short stature, strabismus, dysmorphic facial features, and seizures. The human phenotype is less severe compared with the Bcas3 knockout mouse model and cannot be explained by angiogenic defects alone. Consistent with being loss-of-function alleles, we observed absence of BCAS3 in probands' primary fibroblasts. By comparing the transcriptomic and proteomic data based on probands' fibroblasts with those of the knockout mouse model, we identified similar dysregulated pathways resulting from over-representation analysis, while the dysregulation of some proposed key interactors could not be confirmed. Together with the results from a tissue-specific Drosophila loss-of-function model, we demonstrate a vital role for BCAS3 in neural tissue development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.04.024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206390PMC
June 2021

Mutations in HID1 Cause Syndromic Infantile Encephalopathy and Hypopituitarism.

Ann Neurol 2021 07 5;90(1):143-158. Epub 2021 Jun 5.

Department of Child Neurology, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.

Objective: Precursors of peptide hormones undergo posttranslational modifications within the trans-Golgi network (TGN). Dysfunction of proteins involved at different steps of this process cause several complex syndromes affecting the central nervous system (CNS). We aimed to clarify the genetic cause in a group of patients characterized by hypopituitarism in combination with brain atrophy, thin corpus callosum, severe developmental delay, visual impairment, and epilepsy.

Methods: Whole exome sequencing was performed in seven individuals of six unrelated families with these features. Postmortem histopathological and HID1 expression analysis of brain tissue and pituitary gland were conducted in one patient. Functional consequences of the homozygous HID1 variant p.R433W were investigated by Seahorse XF Assay in fibroblasts of two patients.

Results: Bi-allelic variants in the gene HID1 domain-containing protein 1 (HID1) were identified in all patients. Postmortem examination confirmed cerebral atrophy with enlarged lateral ventricles. Markedly reduced expression of pituitary hormones was found in pituitary gland tissue. Colocalization of HID1 protein with the TGN was not altered in fibroblasts of patients compared to controls, while the extracellular acidification rate upon stimulation with potassium chloride was significantly reduced in patient fibroblasts compared to controls.

Interpretation: Our findings indicate that mutations in HID1 cause an early infantile encephalopathy with hypopituitarism as the leading presentation, and expand the list of syndromic CNS diseases caused by interference of TGN function. ANN NEUROL 2021;90:149-164.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.26127DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8351430PMC
July 2021

Bi-allelic premature truncating variants in LTBP1 cause cutis laxa syndrome.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 06 14;108(6):1095-1114. Epub 2021 May 14.

Center for Medical Genetics Ghent, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent 9000, Belgium; Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Ghent University, Ghent 9000, Belgium. Electronic address:

Latent transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)-binding proteins (LTBPs) are microfibril-associated proteins essential for anchoring TGFβ in the extracellular matrix (ECM) as well as for correct assembly of ECM components. Variants in LTBP2, LTBP3, and LTBP4 have been identified in several autosomal recessive Mendelian disorders with skeletal abnormalities with or without impaired development of elastin-rich tissues. Thus far, the human phenotype associated with LTBP1 deficiency has remained enigmatic. In this study, we report homozygous premature truncating LTBP1 variants in eight affected individuals from four unrelated consanguineous families. Affected individuals present with connective tissue features (cutis laxa and inguinal hernia), craniofacial dysmorphology, variable heart defects, and prominent skeletal features (craniosynostosis, short stature, brachydactyly, and syndactyly). In vitro studies on proband-derived dermal fibroblasts indicate distinct molecular mechanisms depending on the position of the variant in LTBP1. C-terminal variants lead to an altered LTBP1 loosely anchored in the microfibrillar network and cause increased ECM deposition in cultured fibroblasts associated with excessive TGFβ growth factor activation and signaling. In contrast, N-terminal truncation results in a loss of LTBP1 that does not alter TGFβ levels or ECM assembly. In vivo validation with two independent zebrafish lines carrying mutations in ltbp1 induce abnormal collagen fibrillogenesis in skin and intervertebral ligaments and ectopic bone formation on the vertebrae. In addition, one of the mutant zebrafish lines shows voluminous and hypo-mineralized vertebrae. Overall, our findings in humans and zebrafish show that LTBP1 function is crucial for skin and bone ECM assembly and homeostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.04.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206382PMC
June 2021

Pathogenic STX3 variants affecting the retinal and intestinal transcripts cause an early-onset severe retinal dystrophy in microvillus inclusion disease subjects.

Hum Genet 2021 Aug 11;140(8):1143-1156. Epub 2021 May 11.

Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, MSB 7.046, McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas HSC (UTHealth), 6431 Fannin Street, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Biallelic STX3 variants were previously reported in five individuals with the severe congenital enteropathy, microvillus inclusion disease (MVID). Here, we provide a significant extension of the phenotypic spectrum caused by STX3 variants. We report ten individuals of diverse geographic origin with biallelic STX3 loss-of-function variants, identified through exome sequencing, single-nucleotide polymorphism array-based homozygosity mapping, and international collaboration. The evaluated individuals all presented with MVID. Eight individuals also displayed early-onset severe retinal dystrophy, i.e., syndromic-intestinal and retinal-disease. These individuals harbored STX3 variants that affected both the retinal and intestinal STX3 transcripts, whereas STX3 variants affected only the intestinal transcript in individuals with solitary MVID. That STX3 is essential for retinal photoreceptor survival was confirmed by the creation of a rod photoreceptor-specific STX3 knockout mouse model which revealed a time-dependent reduction in the number of rod photoreceptors, thinning of the outer nuclear layer, and the eventual loss of both rod and cone photoreceptors. Together, our results provide a link between STX3 loss-of-function variants and a human retinal dystrophy. Depending on the genomic site of a human loss-of-function STX3 variant, it can cause MVID, the novel intestinal-retinal syndrome reported here or, hypothetically, an isolated retinal dystrophy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-021-02284-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8263458PMC
August 2021

Biallelic variants in HPDL cause pure and complicated hereditary spastic paraplegia.

Brain 2021 06;144(5):1422-1434

Genetics Research Center, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Human 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase-like (HPDL) is a putative iron-containing non-heme oxygenase of unknown specificity and biological significance. We report 25 families containing 34 individuals with neurological disease associated with biallelic HPDL variants. Phenotypes ranged from juvenile-onset pure hereditary spastic paraplegia to infantile-onset spasticity and global developmental delays, sometimes complicated by episodes of neurological and respiratory decompensation. Variants included bona fide pathogenic truncating changes, although most were missense substitutions. Functionality of variants could not be determined directly as the enzymatic specificity of HPDL is unknown; however, when HPDL missense substitutions were introduced into 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD, an HPDL orthologue), they impaired the ability of HPPD to convert 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate into homogentisate. Moreover, three additional sets of experiments provided evidence for a role of HPDL in the nervous system and further supported its link to neurological disease: (i) HPDL was expressed in the nervous system and expression increased during neural differentiation; (ii) knockdown of zebrafish hpdl led to abnormal motor behaviour, replicating aspects of the human disease; and (iii) HPDL localized to mitochondria, consistent with mitochondrial disease that is often associated with neurological manifestations. Our findings suggest that biallelic HPDL variants cause a syndrome varying from juvenile-onset pure hereditary spastic paraplegia to infantile-onset spastic tetraplegia associated with global developmental delays.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab041DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8219359PMC
June 2021

Implications of mosaicism in variant interpretation: A case of a de novo homozygous NF1 variant.

Eur J Med Genet 2021 Jul 20;64(7):104236. Epub 2021 May 20.

Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Neurofibromatosis type 1 is a common multisystem autosomal dominant syndrome caused by pathogenic heterozygous variants in the neurofibromin gene (NF1). It is associated with a substantially increased cancer risk. Mosaicism for NF1 has been clinically well-established for "second hit" variants in skin lesions and tumor tissues. Here, we report on a 3-month-old boy with multiple café au lait macules (CAMs) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) who was found to carry a previously established pathogenic NF1 variant (c.586+5G>A), as revealed by whole-exome sequencing. Surprisingly, however, this variant was detected in the homozygous state in the patient and was absent in the parents and siblings. Deep sequencing of this variant using blood, buccal swabs and skin samples was performed. As expected for an NF1 gene mutation promoting JMML, the variant was detected in 90.6% of the blood DNA reads, in sharp contrast to the mere 5% and 0.74% of reads in the saliva- and skin fibroblast-derived DNA, respectively. Our analysis, therefore, confirmed postzygotic origin of the variant followed by a mitotic event resulting in its homozygosity, although we could not differentiate between the possibilities of a gene conversion and mitotic crossover. Apparently de novo homozygous variants should trigger a careful investigation into mosaicism to achieve accurate interpretation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmg.2021.104236DOI Listing
July 2021

Genetic testing results of children suspected to have Stickler syndrome type collagenopathy after ocular examination.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2021 May 5;9(5):e1628. Epub 2021 May 5.

Department of Genetics, KFSHRC, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Stickler syndrome is a collagenopathy that is typically COL2A1-related (autosomal dominant) and less commonly related to other collagen gene mutations. Diagnosis is straightforward when a child has myopia or retinal detachment in the setting of classic diagnostic criteria such as hearing impairment, midfacial hypoplasia, and arthropathy. However, some children have primarily ocular disease with mild or no extraocular features. Such children can remain undiagnosed unless suspicion is raised by the ophthalmologist.

Methods: Retrospective consecutive case series (2014-2016) of children (<12 years old) suspected to have Stickler syndrome type collagenopathy by a single ophthalmologist and able to complete genetic testing for this possibility. Suspicion was based on vitreous abnormalities and myopia or lens opacities in the setting of prior retinal detachment, hearing impairment, or facial flatness.

Results: Average age of the 12 identified children was 8 years old (range 3-11; five boys). Average spherical equivalent for phakic eyes was -13 (range -3.5 to -30). Nine children had lens opacities or aphakia; two with aphakia also had lens subluxation or iridodonesis. Other recurrent clinical features included flat facies (12/12), hearing impairment (5/12), and prior retinal detachment (4/12). Pathogenic variants for collagenopathy were uncovered in 10/12 children: COL11A1 (heterozygous) in six, COL2A1 (heterozygous) in two, and COL9A1 (homozygous) in two. One child was homozygous for pathogenic variation in LRPAP1. One child had no detectable gene mutations.

Conclusions: Taken together, these clinical features (particularly vitreous abnormality, myopia, and lens opacity) had a high molecular yield for collagen gene mutation. Ophthalmologists who see such children should suspect Stickler syndrome, even in the absence of overt systemic disease. COL11A1-related rather than COL2A1-related autosomal dominant disease may be more common when undiagnosed children are identified based on ocular examination. Biallelic mutations in LRPAP1 can result in a phenotype that may resemble Stickler syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.1628DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8172201PMC
May 2021

Combining exome/genome sequencing with data repository analysis reveals novel gene-disease associations for a wide range of genetic disorders.

Genet Med 2021 08 19;23(8):1551-1568. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC), King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, MNGHA, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Purpose: Within this study, we aimed to discover novel gene-disease associations in patients with no genetic diagnosis after exome/genome sequencing (ES/GS).

Methods: We followed two approaches: (1) a patient-centered approach, which after routine diagnostic analysis systematically interrogates variants in genes not yet associated to human diseases; and (2) a gene variant centered approach. For the latter, we focused on de novo variants in patients that presented with neurodevelopmental delay (NDD) and/or intellectual disability (ID), which are the most common reasons for genetic testing referrals. Gene-disease association was assessed using our data repository that combines ES/GS data and Human Phenotype Ontology terms from over 33,000 patients.

Results: We propose six novel gene-disease associations based on 38 patients with variants in the BLOC1S1, IPO8, MMP15, PLK1, RAP1GDS1, and ZNF699 genes. Furthermore, our results support causality of 31 additional candidate genes that had little published evidence and no registered OMIM phenotype (56 patients). The phenotypes included syndromic/nonsyndromic NDD/ID, oral-facial-digital syndrome, cardiomyopathies, malformation syndrome, short stature, skeletal dysplasia, and ciliary dyskinesia.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate the value of data repositories which combine clinical and genetic data for discovering and confirming gene-disease associations. Genetic laboratories should be encouraged to pursue such analyses for the benefit of undiagnosed patients and their families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01159-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8354858PMC
August 2021

Clinical, neuroimaging, and molecular spectrum of TECPR2-associated hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy with intellectual disability.

Hum Mutat 2021 06 11;42(6):762-776. Epub 2021 May 11.

Oxford Centre for Genomic Medicine, Oxford, UK.

Bi-allelic TECPR2 variants have been associated with a complex syndrome with features of both a neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorder. Here, we provide a comprehensive clinical description and variant interpretation framework for this genetic locus. Through international collaboration, we identified 17 individuals from 15 families with bi-allelic TECPR2-variants. We systemically reviewed clinical and molecular data from this cohort and 11 cases previously reported. Phenotypes were standardized using Human Phenotype Ontology terms. A cross-sectional analysis revealed global developmental delay/intellectual disability, muscular hypotonia, ataxia, hyporeflexia, respiratory infections, and central/nocturnal hypopnea as core manifestations. A review of brain magnetic resonance imaging scans demonstrated a thin corpus callosum in 52%. We evaluated 17 distinct variants. Missense variants in TECPR2 are predominantly located in the N- and C-terminal regions containing β-propeller repeats. Despite constituting nearly half of disease-associated TECPR2 variants, classifying missense variants as (likely) pathogenic according to ACMG criteria remains challenging. We estimate a pathogenic variant carrier frequency of 1/1221 in the general and 1/155 in the Jewish Ashkenazi populations. Based on clinical, neuroimaging, and genetic data, we provide recommendations for variant reporting, clinical assessment, and surveillance/treatment of individuals with TECPR2-associated disorder. This sets the stage for future prospective natural history studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.24206DOI Listing
June 2021
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